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4 honors students to attend seminar in Austria

For the ninth consecutive year, Seminole State will be represented by honors students at the Salzburg Global Seminar.

Four Seminole State College of Florida students will travel to Salzburg, Austria, to participate in the Salzburg Global Seminar’s International Study Program May 25-June 1.

Honors students Christina Shaffer, 20, of Maitland; Sebastian Hernandez, 19, of Casselberry; Sonia Mia Diaz, 20, of Orlando; and Elizabeth Lee, 18, of Oviedo, will travel to Salzburg along with Professor Rachel Braaten to attend the annual conference. The students are members of Pi Lambda, the College’s chapter of international honor society Phi Theta Kappa (PTK).

The seminar, titled “Global Citizenship: At Home and in the World,” offers undergraduate students from the United States an opportunity to study abroad and expand their cultural horizons.

“The idea is that our Seminole State students who attend this seminar will then be able to convey what they learn about these issues in the classroom and be able to communicate in the global network,” says Braaten, a humanities professor who has traveled abroad with students numerous times through Travel Study programs.

The weeklong seminar affords students from across America the opportunity not only to immerse themselves in a new culture, but also to learn intensively about issues affecting societies and cultures worldwide. This will be the ninth consecutive year Seminole State students have participated in the seminar. The cost of the trip — approximately $3,500 per student — is largely funded by donations from the Art and Phyllis Grindle Foundation.

“I hope to achieve a broader idea of America’s influence in globalization and the pros and cons of that influence,” says Elizabeth Lee, who plans to pursue a law degree and practice civil law. “I expect to expand my thinking and experience things on a firsthand basis. Many of the events that are scheduled, especially our visit to [the Dachau concentration camp], are going to leave a deep impression.”

Participants in the program will experience a fluid and unique cultural exchange through a series of presentations, lectures, discussions and excursions. The hope is that students attending the seminar may return home and help spread the ideas in their own communities.

That’s what Christina Shaffer, a finance major, hopes to do. She says her biggest priority is to help preserve and enhance human rights worldwide, and she expects the experiences she has in Salzburg to help her undermine ethnocentricity and bring light to global issues in an increasingly connected world.

“I never want to lose sight of the importance of human rights and helping others,” she says.

For some participants, the experience may impact their lives and careers for many years to come. Sonia Diaz, a pre-med student, and Sebastian Hernandez, who is studying psychology, hope to build a base of understanding to help empathize with others throughout their careers. Diaz, who also serves as an Honors Ambassador and president of service for Pi Lambda, and Hernandez want to gain a broader understanding of global culture to help them connect with patients.

“My generation has some big shoes to fill,” says Lee. “It is becoming increasingly important to accept the position of a world citizen and work together with communities that are quickly becoming intertwined.”

Seminole State's Art & Phyllis Grindle Honors Institute offers enrichment programs for academically talented students wishing to enhance their college experience. For more information, please visit the Honors Institute website at

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